On Monday afternoon, six Bay Area counties unveiled “shelter in place” orders for all residents. Residents of San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Marin, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties—starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday—are directed to remain inside their homes and away from others in a desperate attempt to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. The orders affect almost 7 million Bay Area residents and will stay in place until April 7th at the earliest.

The orders—which are nearly identical among the counties—are just short of a full lockdown, a measure that would require residents to obtain official permission to leave their residences. The “shelter in place” order gives several exceptions for “essential” needs.

The County of San Mateo’s website details what is considered “essential” (and thus permitted) versus non-essential. Under the order, the county prohibits group gatherings of any sort outside of the immediate family, shopping for non-essential goods, and orders the closure of dine-in restaurants, bars, gyms, and other non-essential businesses.

All government services (police, fire, etc.) will remain open, as well as gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, food banks, take-out restaurants, banks, and cemeteries. Places of worship were ordered closed except for when providing essential services such as funerals and food distribution. Wedding ceremonies are prohibited as well.

Residents are permitted to go out to hike, run, or walk their pets. In instances where going out is required, the county recommends residents practice good hygiene and social distancing, meaning standing at least six feet away from other people.  

Despite the extreme measure, the county recommends against stocking up on or hoarding food as grocery stores will remain open and periodically restocked.

The order is legally binding, and failure to comply with the directive is considered a misdemeanor that could possibly result in fines or imprisonment.

To see more of what is considered “essential” and thus exempted from the “shelter in place” order, go to the San Mateo County website.

Nate Viotti

Nate Viotti is one of the editors-in-chief of the M-A Chronicle and The Mark. A third-year journalism student, he is a firm believer in the power of storytelling and is committed to amplifying underrepresented student voices. He enjoys writing stories on a range of pertinent local, national, and international political issues. He also enjoys designing print layouts for The Mark and playing around with the web design of the online site. Outside of school, Nate enjoys studying languages, volunteering as a Model UN chair for middle schoolers, and watching far too many legal dramas.

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